Follow Him - The Power of Invitation

Dear Friends in Christ,
As we begin a new year and enter the season of Epiphany, I want to encourage all of us in ways we might follow the example of the early disciples by listening to Jesus extend the invitation to "follow." The power of invitation is evident as Jesus preaches, teaches and heals.
A recent Research and Evaluation piece from our Churchwide office indicated:
  •  60% of ELCA pastors do not believe that practicing evangelism or sharing the good news of God's love in Jesus is a part of their call and responsibility.
  • 57% of ELCA lay members also share that view.

But as I visit with Councils and Call Committees they all say they want to grow their congregation. I often feel cognitive dissonance when I hear this and know the statistics of decline. Because I also know that, over the past several decades, all the research I have read and my own personal experience indicate that the primary way in which people come to know Jesus and come to be a part of a local congregation is through a relationship with someone who has been open to share their own love and experience of Jesus and the gift of being a part of a local community of faith.

As we gather for worship during Epiphany, where the Gospel readings declare in many and various ways who Jesus is, I pray that we can trust in the power of the Holy Spirit given to us in our baptism to be ready and open to continue in the footsteps of Jesus and invite others to "Follow Him."

Blessed Epiphany,

Bishop Steve